New York Times best-selling author Christopher Rice called him "the best writer of horror and thrillers at work today." Legendary author Ed Gorman said he was "among the finest dark suspense writers of our time." Greg F. Gifune has certainly earned an admirable reputation in the world of horror and suspense fiction.
Greg's novels, novellas, and short stories have been published all over the world and translated into several languages; received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, and others; is consistently praised by readers and critics alike, and has garnered attention from Hollywood. His novels, among many others, include Savages, Babylon Terminal, God Machine, Midnight Solitaire, Midnight Gods, and Drago Descending.
Greg's novel The Bleeding Season, originally published in 2003, has been hailed as a classic in the horror genre and is considered by many readers to be one of the best horror/thriller novels of our times.
Greg, let's start with The Bleeding Season, probably your first novel to thrust you into the limelight. Delirium Books published the first edition. I believe a new edition was recently reissued by Journalstone. What has been your experience working with various publishers throughout your career?
Yes, The Bleeding Season put me on the map, and it's continued to be in print and sell all over the world for years now. It's considered a cult classic, and many, including Famous Monsters of Filmland, listed it as one of the great horror novels alongside King's IT and McCammon's Boy's Life, so I'm very proud of it. It's done very well in Russia and Germany, so it has a broad fan base and a readership that is rather rabid in supporting the book.
The new edition is a fifteen-year anniversary edition that one of my publishers, Journalstone, released in 2018 and features a new introduction from Ronald Malfi (Bone White) and a new afterword from Eric Shapiro (Red Dennis). I'm happy to be with Journalstone. They have much of my backlist of novels and I'm doing new projects with them as well, including a new novella I wrote with Sandy DeLuca called Blue Hell that'll be out in March and available everywhere.
I'm fortunate in that I work with many great publishers, and my experience over the years has been incredibly good. I've had a few bad situations, of course, but everyone that's been in the business more than ten or fifteen minutes has too. Overall, I think I've had good relationships with almost all the publishers I've worked with in what's been a twenty-year career so far. Generally, it's been positive.
And what advice would you offer authors who want to develop strong relationships with publishers?
I'd say be patient. Patience has never particularly been one of my strong suits, but it's something I've learned to develop in dealing with publishers. You must be open-minded, particularly when you're starting out. If you're working with professionals, people who know what they're doing—and odds are, if they're in those positions and you're just starting, they know more than you do—go in with an open mind and listen to what they tell you. A good editor is invaluable. I don't care what level of experience you have, an excellent editor only helps and makes the work, and by extension you, better.
I've been on both sides of that desk. I've worked for publishers as an editor, running lines and in acquisitions. I've worked in that capacity with seasoned veterans and newcomers, and the best experiences are always those that work as a partnership. A good editor doesn't write the novel or try to tell you how to write it. He or she simply guides you, keeps you focused and on track, and helps bring out the best in your work.
You must also realize there's nothing magical about publishers. They have good days and bad days like anyone else. As long as a publisher is honest, that's the key. If a publisher tells you something, it should happen. If it can't happen or doesn't, they should be upfront about why, and you go from there. Communications is big, and that (or should) go both ways because, to develop strong relationships with publishers, it's a two-way street. There must be mutual respect, and the publisher must want to work with their authors as much as authors want that with them. So, be a writer they want to work with again, who cares about what you and they are doing, and who wants to team with the publisher to make the book as good and as successful as it can be.
Do you believe there is true evil in the world, an underlying darkness that is beyond our control, the engine that drives the world? The Bleeding Season certainly suggests that.
The short answer is yes. 'Believe' is probably the wrong word because I think belief requires faith, in a sense, and suggests it's open to debate. For me, it's not. Evil is one engine driving the world. On the other hand, I think good drives it as well. It's usually a matter of which stream you want to swim in.
The Bleeding Season explores and suggests that, and I think there's a real-world parallel. It's a very personal novel. While it's fiction, there's also a good deal of truth in it, and the essence of what I explore in that novel is real. There's a lot of truth in terms of human behavior and the evil in the world. Much of it ties to a past of mine I don't talk about much, where my life went in a different direction than it is now. There's a deep truth to that novel and I think that's one reason it resonates with so many readers, has for so many years, and continues to.
The Bleeding Season is a harrowing, cerebral novel heavy on psychology—a thinking person's horror novel. Savages, on the other hand, reminded me of a '70s B movie—gruesome and fun. They're very different books with distinct styles. It was as if different authors wrote them. When you begin a novel, do you intentionally explore new writing styles, or does it just come down to the subject matter?
I don't necessarily explore different styles (in a technical sense), as my style remains more or less the same from one work to another. But Savages is a departure from my other novels. I'm glad it reminded you of 70s B movies because that's what I was going for. The whole idea behind Savages was to write a salute to those great 70s and 80s B drive-in movies that I've always loved and were great fun. That was my tip of the hat to that sort of thing. I stepped outside of what I normally do, and I think you're right that if you read Savages and then any number of other novels I've written, you'll see a difference.
My other work, as you said, is more cerebral and psychological. Then there are my crime novels, and most of them are something else again. But in terms of style, it pretty much stays the same. I just alter things for what I'm trying to accomplish or get across. And that's really what Savages was about, so it had to be written like a pulp exploitation novel or it wouldn't have worked.